OXI Day – The laconic legacy of liberty
«ὦ ξεῖν', ἀγγέλλειν Λακεδαιμονίοις ὅτι τῇδε
κείμεθα τοῖς κείνων ῥήμασι πειθόμενοι.» 
The above translates word for word as, “O stranger, announce to the Lacedemonians that here / We lie, to their words [or laws] obedient.” 
On October 28th, 1940, the Italian Ambassador to Greece delivered an ultimatum from Benito Mussolini to Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas, demanding free entrance, passage, and occupation by the Italian army. Metaxas replied, “Alors, c’est la guerre”, translated to “Then, it is war”, which was quickly celebrated as a defiant “ΟΧΙ!” or “NO!”.
For many years, many individuals in Greece, the diaspora, and foreign politicians, have celebrated and commemorated this occurrence as a great symbol of defiance and resistance. Over time, the spirit of Metaxas’ utterance has come to encompass a symbolic “no” against any aggression or transgression one may face.
It is hard to imagine that Metaxas was considering the future value of such symbolism or generalized philosophical principle. At the time, something much more psychologically, culturally, and spiritually ingrained would have underpinned and motivated this action – action because it goes far beyond being a response or stance. Protestors can respond, grandstanders can stand, and naysayers can reject. Metaxas thought beyond that and took affirmative, unequivocal action with far-reaching, grave repercussions. He was prepared to go to war, sending the entire military – the entire draft-ready population – up into the mountainous borders to fight against the Italians. As a well-versed military strategist, he must also have known that even if he were to successfully stave off the Italians, he would have to then prepare Greece for the totality of the Nazi war machine.
It is not inconceivable that a legacy and dormant pride – a mandate – inherited through the millennia, prevented him from subverting not only his authority, but the sovereignty of Greece, and the freedom of its people. It is not impossible to imagine that Metaxas heard King Leonidas’ simple order to “Remember [them]”, to “Remember why [they] died”; he heard “[their] voices whisper to [him] from the ageless stones…”. Simonides inscribed, with such sentiment, on the cenotaph of the Isthmus of the Corinthians who fought at the Battle of Salamina:
«ἀκμᾶς ἑστακυῖαν ἐπὶ ξυροῦ Ἑλλάδα πᾶσαν
ταῖς αὑτῶν ψυχαῖς κείμεθα ῥυσάμενοι.» 
He may have also reflected on the courage and selflessness of the heroes of the War of Independence in the 1820s, of whom several, like Bouboulina, gave up their comfort and wealth to aid in liberating their country from 400 years of Ottoman occupation.
Metaxas was guided and fueled by the knowledge of sacrifice that had ensured the freedom of Greece, deciding that its preservation warranted nothing less than the ultimate sacrifice.
The effects of that “OXI” led to the reputed claims of nationwide unity, defiance, and above all, the shared understanding, responsibility, and honor of sacrifice. One such claim denotes that even though five days were given for drafted men to present themselves, most came forth on the first. Another goes further, saying several famous personas and children of established, well-connected statesmen used their influence to volunteer themselves for the front lines. Among them were academics Alekos Lidorikis and Spiros Melas, as well as Odysseas Elytis, Nikiforos Vrettakos, Aggelos Terzakis, Nikos Kavvadias, Konstantinos Mitsotakis, Georgios Rallis, and Harilaos Florakis.
It is this purpose and motivation in action, this sentiment – this call of duty – that generated the courage necessary to stave off the Italians, and delay the Nazi strategic advancement by over two months. As Adolf Hitler admitted, “Historic justice forces me to admit, that of all the enemies that stand against us, the Greek soldier, above all, fought with the most courage.”
The defeat of the Italians was the first greatest indication that the Axis alliance was not undefeatable. Secondly, the delay in the Nazi occupation of Greece caused a delay in their advancement to the USSR, causing them to fight the Russian army in the harsh winter conditions – conditions that proved a telling factor in balancing the favor towards the Russian army, providing a much more devastating and conclusive blow to the Nazi war machine. As Joseph Stalin credits, “[We] thank the Greek People, whose resistance decided WWII… You fought unarmed and won, small against big… You gave us time to defend ourselves.” No one else but Hitler’s Chief of Staff, Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, as a defendant during the Nuremburg Trials, testified to this effect, saying, “…the unbelievably strong resistance of the Greeks delayed by two or more vital months the German attack against Russia; if we did not have this long delay, the outcome of the war would have been different in the Eastern Front and the war in general.”
It is not the defiance alone, but the legacy of our ancient and more modern forefathers, rooted deep in our psyche and identity, that gives birth to the incredible moral and physical courage required not only to act, but to act decisively, fighting against all odds, to change the course of history. After all, on the same day he rejected the ultimatum, in his address to the Greek people, Metaxas ended with the following line from Aeschylus’ play The Persians: «νῦν ὑπὲρ πάντων ἀγών.» 
President, National Hellenic Student Association
1. Simonides of Ceos
2. A more popular translation is “Tell them passerby, that here, by Spartan law, we lie.”
3. It translates to: “All Greece stood on the razor’s edge: we lie here, having rescued it with our own lives”
4. It translates to: “Now is the fight for everything”
An Open Letter to Democracy
Thirty-six hours ago, the citizens of the U.K. voted, through referendum, to leave the E.U. The decision plummeted the markets, toppled PM Cameron, and reeled foreign governments from the U.S. and throughout Europe. Regardless of your own personal positions and convictions on the matter, there is something we must reflect on. It is about the power of a democracy and the dangers of a misinformed, ill-informed, or emotionally charged electorate. After all, the English’s own Churchill wrote “the best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” But most importantly, it is also about the institution of democracy. Do we modify, reinvent, or revamp the education system and intellectualism, or do we abolish democracy?
The referendum remain(s/ed) the last, purest form of absolute democracy – any democracy. [I will discuss elections later as we near November]. The reasoning is simple. Aristotle said, “The many are more incorruptible than the few…” and “When states are democratically governed according to the law, there are no demagogues, and the best citizens are securely in the saddle; but where the laws are not sovereign, there you find demagogues. The people becomes a monarch, one person composed of many, for the many are sovereign, not as individuals but as an aggregate…such a people, in its role as a monarch, not being controlled by law, aims at sole power and becomes like a master”
The U.K is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy.
However close and divided the decision, the PM, a staunch supporter of the remain campaign, along with his opposers (i.e. Boris Johnson, a life-long friend and political ally), somberly (others with regret, others victoriously) announced the results of the referendum in their own regards, acknowledging and respecting the will of the people and the gravity thereof. He validated this decision by announcing his resignation, citing his conscience and (in)ability as obstacles to fulfilling the peoples’ directive.
Greece is a parliamentary constitutional republic.
The Greeks went to the polls to vote in our referendum; this too, with bitter fights. However, unlike the U.K. referendum, ours was not divided evenly. It was reported around the world as a resounding no.
Vasiliki posted an admittedly hilarious meme depicting all that I have and will write.
But the reality is much harsher than a laugh.
We pride ourselves on being the birthplace of democracy; on being the leaders of revolution and resolution; on being internally free of subjugation.
But our elected representative chose to secure his position rather than defend and express our liberty and sovereignty. And as Benjamin Franklin said, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
Why? And now what?
I’ll leave those, and others, as rhetorical questions, or ones we can answer over coffee, or outside a gas station.
President, National Hellenic Student Association
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.